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Franco Harris takes Sandusky scandal to Northampton Community College

By John Craven, Reporter, JCraven@wfmz.com
Published On: May 04 2013 07:00:00 PM CDT
Updated On: May 06 2013 05:32:34 AM CDT

Franco Harris takes Sandusky scandal center stage

BETHLEHEM, Pa. -

The Jerry Sandusky scandal took center stage in the Lehigh Valley Saturday night.  Supporters of the late coach Joe Paterno took their case to a town hall-style meeting at Northampton Community College.

It was led by former Penn State player Franco Harris, an adamant supporter of Paterno's.  But if Harris was trying to change any minds, he was already preaching to a choir in blue and white.

When asked why we attended, Sean Carlson of Nazareth replied:  "Find out a little more about what went on as far as the slander, I think, of Joe Paterno."

"Upon Further Review" is a series of meetings across the state responding to a blistering report from former FBI director Louis Freeh.

"Nothing was done and Sandusky was allowed to continue with impunity," Freeh said in July 2012.

Freeh's team uncovered emails suggesting a "coach" was informed of sex abuse allegations back in 1998.  It's not clear if that coach was actually Paterno.  Sandusky was later cleared by local and state investigators.

Then, three years later, after yet another allegation, Freeh claims a different email suggests Paterno discouraged the school from contacting child welfare authorities.

In the email, then-Penn State athletic director Tim Curley wrote, "After giving it some thought and talking it over with Joe yesterday -- I am uncomfortable with what we agreed were the next steps."

According to Harris, it's crucial to know whether Paterno was actually made aware of the 1998 investigation.

"If he knew about 1998, would that have made him think that Jerry was a criminal or if he knew about 1998, would he look at it with Jerry was just horsing around?", said Franco.

Franco's team also said Freeh failed to interview Paterno or his bosses.

"Only three witnesses out of 19 were investigated -- or, I'm sorry -- interviewed," said researcher Eileen Morgan, who has worked with Franco's team.

Many in the crowd were at least pleased with this week's news that two Penn State trustees were ousted, and Governor Tom Corbett's voting power was stripped.

"It's a start," said Bob Whirl of Bethlehem.  "At least they're starting to restructure a board that was established in the 1850s when it was an agricultural school."

Three of Penn State's former top leaders, including Curley and ex-president Graham Spanier, are still awaiting trial.